Colonia del Sacramento – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Colonia, Uruguay, South America

Colonia del Sacramento is a city in Southwestern Uruguay, by the Río de la Plata, facing Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is the oldest town in Uruguay with a population of around 22,000.

Founded in 1680 by Portugal as Colonia do Sacramento, the colony was later disputed by the Spaniards. It kept changing hands from crown to crown until it remained with the Spanish in 1777.

Everything there feels ancient – the cobblestone streets, old buildings, parks. It is a place to stroll and get relaxed.

There is no similar city in this region of South America. The architecture traditions of Portugal and Spain merge in every corner and surprise the eyes of the visitors.

Barrio Histórico

The Barrio Histórico (historic quarter) section of Colonia del Sacramento was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995. It is a popular tourist attraction for visitors from Buenos Aires, and there is frequent ferry service across the Río de la Plata between the two cities, with fast and modern ferries (the Buquebus line) completing the journey in just 50 minutes. The historical section of Colonia, with its cobblestone streets built by the Portuguese in the 17th century, is within walking distance of the ferry terminal. Barrio Histórico was enclosed by a fortification wall across the peninsula in the site of present day Calle Ituzaingó. The fortification wall was partially removed after 1777. Only a small part of the wall remains, and can be seen by tourists visiting Colonia.

Points of interest

Colonia del Sacramento preserves a unique treasure which may be discovered as strolling around its cobbled streets. Among the notable tourist attractions around the tree-lined Plaza Mayor (main square) are:

  • Portón de Campo – the City Gate and wooden drawbridge
  • Lighthouse and convent ruins of the 17th century Convent of San Francisco
  • Basilica del Santísimo Sacramento – the Basilica of the Holy Sacrament, built of stone by the Portuguese in 1808
  • Viceroy’s House – the Casa del Virrey, reconstructed from the original ruinsA few miles away from the center (by car):
  • Plaza de toros Real de San Carlos, a Bullring included in an old tourist complex now abandoned.

The Eight Museums: 

The Eight Museums allow visitors to go into the history of this place as well as in the peoples that have dwelled there its foundation times. All of them are as tiny as a nutshell, but full of treasures. Among them, the “Nacarello House” Museum, an old Portuguese house, which perfectly preserves its original stone walls and floor from the early 17th century. And not to be missed is the Tile Museum, a small house with samples of Portuguese tiles that will certainly please people with paperfolding inclinations as many of them provide designes apt to reproduce as tessellations.


Colonia del Sacramento has a mild humid subtropical climate, described by the Köppen climate classification as Cfa. Summers are warm and winters are cool, with relatively frequent frosts and fog. The precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year, with an average of 1,039 mm (40.91 in), and the annual average temperature is 17 °C (63 °F).

External links

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